Forgive me for using the word visitation. We generally use the words physical
responsibility or parent-child contact time to describe the time a parent enjoys with their
children. However, I want to write about interference with that time and I will find it easier if I
refer to this as interference with parental visitation.
The rule is this: you can’t repeatedly, intentionally and without justification interfere with
another parent’s visitation rights. If you engage in this type of behavior, the existing parenting
plan can be modified. The parenting plan can be modified without a showing that the
interference is causing harm to the child. All that is necessary to change the parenting plan is a
showing of interference and a finding that a change in the parenting plan would be in the
children’s best interest.
There are other remedies available short of filing a motion to modify the parenting plan.
A motion for contempt of court orders comes to mind. When a motion of this nature is filed, it is
given priority on the court’s calendar. The motion is supposed to be heard within 30 days. In
addition, the court is entitled to award reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party
for their contemptuous conduct. Such an award can hurt one’s pocket book as you end up paying
your own attorney and your opponent’s attorney.
There is a criminal statute governing interference with custody. This statute says that a
person is guilty of a class B felony if they knowingly take from this state or entice away from this
state any child under the age of 18, or cause the child to be taken from this state or enticed away
from this state, with the intent to detain or conceal such child from: (a) A parent, guardian or
other person having lawful parental rights and responsibilities as described in RSA 461-A. This
is the exact type of conduct that can result in a modification of a parenting plan.
Charges of child sexual abuse by one parent against the other is often a game changer.
When it is determined that these charges have no basis and the individual has a serious
impairment in their ability to accurately process information, you can see a change in custody.
Obviously, making unfounded allegations of sexual abuse can significantly impair the
relationship one parent has with their children. Since much of our custody law focuses on the
ability and disposition of one parent to foster a positive relationship with the other parent, when
one parent lacks this ability, they can lose their custodial rights.
New Hampshire believes that children do best when both parents have a stable and
meaningful involvement in their children’s lives; therefore, “it is the policy of this state, unless it
is clearly shown that in a particular case it is detrimental to a child, to: (a) Support frequent and
continuing contact between each child and both parents. (b) Encourage parents to share in the
rights and responsibilities of raising their children after the parents have separated or divorced.
(c) Encourage parents to develop their own parenting plan with the assistance of legal and
mediation professionals, unless there is evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect.
(d) Grant parents and courts the widest discretion in developing a parenting plan. (e) Consider
both the best interests of the child in light of the factors listed in RSA 461-A:6 and the safety of
the parties in developing a parenting plan.
No one wants their former spouse or significant other to interfere with their visitation
rights. When this happens, a legal battle is sure to ensue.